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C

No. 1154.

ENGAGEMENT OF FIRST MISSIONARIES FOR NEW FRANCE.



EXTRACT FROM “VOYAGE DU SIEUR DE CHAMPLAIN, EN LA NOUVELLE        FRANCE, FAICT EN L'ANNEE 1615.” (Oeuvres de Champlain par        Laverdiere.) pp. 490-4.

.... Mais auparauant il est à propos de dire, qu'ayant recogneu aux voyages precedents, qu'il y a auiot en quelques endroicts des peuples arrestez, & amateurs du labourage de la terre, n'ayans ny foy ny loy, viuans sans Dieu, & sans religion, comme bestes brutes. Lors ie iugay à part moy que ce seroit faire vne grande faute si ie ne m'employois à leur preparer quelque moyen pour les faire venir à la cognoissance de Dieu. Et pour y paruenir ie me suis efforcé de rechercher quelques bons Religieux, qui eussent le zele, & affection, à la gloire de Dieu : Pour les persuader d'enuoyer, où se transporter auec moy en ces pays, & essayer d'y planter la foy, ou du moins y faire ce qui y seroit possible selon leur vacation, & en ce faisant remarquer & cognoistre s'il s'y pourroit faire quelque bon fruict, d'autant que pour y paruenir il faloit faire vne despence qui eust exedé mon pouuoir, & pour quelque raison i'ay negligé ceste affaire pour vn temps, me representant les difficultez qu'il y auroit au recouurement des choses necessaires, & requises en telle affaire, comme il est ordinaire en semblables voyages. D'ailleurs qu'aucunes personnes ne se presentoient pour y contribuër. Neantmoins estant sur ceste recherche, & la communiquant à plusieurs, il se seroit presenté vn homme d'honneur, duquel i'auois la frequentation ordinaire, appellé le Sieur Hoüel Secretaire du Roy, & Contrerolleur General des Sallines de Broüage, homme adonné à la pieté, & doüé d'un grand zele, & affection, à l'honneur de Dieu, & à l'augmentation de sa Religion, lequel me donna vn aduis qui me fut fort agreable. A sçauoir qu'il cognoissant de bons Peres Religieux, de l'ordre des Recollez, desquels il s'asseuroit, & auoit tant de familiarité, & de creance enuers eux, qu'il les feroit condescendre facillement, & entreprendre le voyage, & que pour les feroit condescendre facillement, & entreprendre le voyage, & que pour les commoditez necessaires pour trois ou quatre Religieuex qu'on y pourroit enuoyer, on ne manqueroit point de gens de bien qui leur donneroient ce qui leur seroit de besoing, offrant de sa part les assister de son pouuoir, & de faict il en rescriuit au Pere du Verger,/lequel gousta & prit fort bien ceste affaire & suiuant l'aduis du Sieur Hoüel, il en communiqua & parla à aucuns de ses freres, qui tous bruslants de charité s'offrirent librement à l'entreprise de ce Sainct voyage.
Or estoit-il pour lors en Xaintonge, dequel lieu il en enuoya deux à Paris, auec vne commission, non toutesfois auec vn pouuoir absolu, remetteant

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le surplus à Monsieur le Nonce de nostre Sainct Pere le pape, qui pour lors estoit en France, en l'année 1614. & estans iceux Religieux en leur maison à Paris, il les fut visiter, estant fort aise & content de leur resolution, & lors tous ensemble fusmes trouuer ledict Sieur nonce, auec laditte commission pour la luy communiquer, & le supplier d'y interposer son auctorité. Mais au contraire il nous dist qu'il n'auoit point pouuoir pour telles affaires, & que c'estoit à leur General à qui ils se deuoient adresser. Neantmoins laquelle rent entreprendre le voyage, sur le pouuoir du Pere du Verger, craignant qu'il ne fust assez autentique, & saditte commission valable, à caufe dequoy l'affaire fut remise à l'autre année suiuante. En attendant laquelle ils prirent aduis & resolution, fuiuant laquelle on disposa toutes choses pour ceste entreprise, qui se deuoit effectuer au printemps lors prochain : en attendant lequel, les deux Religieux seroient retournez en leur Couuent en Broüage.
Et moy de mon costé, ie ne laissay de mettre ordre à mes affaires, pour la preparation de ce voyage.
Et quelque mois aprés le despartement des deux Religieux que le Reuerend Pere Chapoüin Provincial des Peres Recollez, (homme fort pieux) fut de retour à Paris. Ledit Sieur Hoüel le fut voir, & luy fit le discours de ce qui s'estoit passé, touchant le pouuoir du Pere du Verger, & la maison qu'il auoit donnée aux Peres Recollez. Sur lequel discours ledit Pere Provincial commença a loüer ce dessein, & le prendre en affection, promettant d'y faire ce qui seroit de son pouuoir, n'ayant auparauant bien pris le subiect de ceste mission, & est à croire que Dieu l'inspira de plus en plus à poursuiure ceste affaire, & en parla dés lors à Monseigneur le Prince de Condé, & à tous Messieurs les Cardinaux, & Euesques, estans lors à Paris assemblez pour la tenuë des estats, qui tous ensemble loüerent & apporuuerent ce dessein, & pour montrer qu'ils y estoient portez, asseurerent ledit sieur Prouincial qu'ils trouueroient entr'eux, & ceux de la Court, vn moyen de leur faire un petit fonds, & leur amasser quelque argent pour assisster quatre Religieux, qu'on choisiroit, & furent dés lors choisis pour l'execution d'une si sainte oeuure. Et affin d'aduancer le facilité de ceste affaire, ie fus trouuer aux estats Nosseigneurs les Cardinaux & Euesques, & leur remonstray, & representay le bien & utilité qui en pouuoit vn iour reuenir, pour les supplier & esmouuoir à donner, & faire donner à autres, qui pourroient y estre emulez par leur exemple, quelques aumosnes & gratifications, remettant le tout àleur volonté & discretion.
Les aumosnes qu'on amassa pour fournir aux frais de ce voyage, se monterent à prés de quinze cent liures, qui furent mis entre mes mains, & furent dés lors employez, de l'aduis & en la presence des Peres, en la despence & achapt des choses necessaires, tant pour la nourriture des Peres qui feroient le voyage en ladite nouuelle France, qu'habits, linges, & ornemens qui leur estoit de besoing, pour faire, & dire, le seruice Diuin, lesquels Religieux furent enoyez deuant à Honfleur, où se deuoit faire leur embarquement.
Or les Peres Religieux qui furent nommez & designez pour ceste saincte enterprise, estoient le Pere Denis, pour Commissaire, Jean Delbeau, Joseph le Caron, & Pacifique du Plessis, chacun desquels estoit porté d'vne saincte

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affection, & bru/sloient de faire le voyage, moyennant la grace de Dieu, affin de voir s'ils pourroient faire quelque bon fruit, & planter en ces lieux l'estendart de Jesus-Christ, auec une deliberation de viure & mourir pour son sainct Nom, s'il estoit necessaire, & que l'occasion s'en presentast. Toutes choses preparées, ils s'accommoderent des ornements d'Englise, & nous des choses necessaires pour nostre voyage.



                         No. 1155.                                   C


PROCEEDINGS OF THE FIRST MISSIONARIES IN NEW FRANCE.



FIRST ESTABLISHMENT OF THE FAITH IN NEW FRANCE BY FATHER        CHRISTIAN LE CLERQ, RECOLLECT MISSIONARY. Translated by        John Gilmary Shea, volume I.

CHAPTER III.

Beginnings are always difficult, and the greater the work the greater the difficulty. They also meet stronger opposition, especially in a religious establishment, even when it is proposed to push them on in a convinient country, where it should be easy to find all that is necessary for this design.

*            *             *             *
Father John Dalbeau, having arrived at Quebec, had there, in concert with Monsieur de Champlain, traced the plan of our first establishment, a little chapel and a house to shelter the religious, on the very spot where the lower town is now. The whole was soon ready, for there was nothing but what was most simple and comformable to evangelical poverty. Father Denis, the superior, had merely passed by Quebec, and had set out at the same time for Three Rivers with Father Joseph le Caron, leaving to Father John d'Olbeau the charge of the work, which being finished, and the chapel in a fit state, he had, on the 25th of June, 1615, the priviledge of celebrating there the first Mass ever said in Canada.

*            *             *             *
While at Quebec they had many conferences with monsieur de Champlain and the most intelligent Frenchmen, who unanimously, after frequently invoking the aid of Heaven, made a kind of capitulary assembly, a little conclave, where, after the example of the disciples of the Son of God upon the descent of the Holy Ghost, these new apostles had to divide among them

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this vast country and this New World, which they were going to subdue to the empire of Jesus Christ.

*            *             *             *
The result of this assembly, and the division made, were approved by the governor. The reverend father-commissary remained at Quebec, as the centre of the country, to administer the sacraments to the French in the colony and to form a mission for the Indians ; to extend his solicitude as far as Three Rivers, and establish others further down the river, over which he might watch. Father John d'Olbeau was selected for the Montagnais ; Tadoussac being named as his post, whence he should extend to the end and mouth of the river St. Lawrence. Father Joseph le Caron had as his share the Hurons and other Western tribes ascending the river.
Father John d'Olbeau accordingly left Quebec the 2d of December in the same year, to proceed to the spot appointed for his Montagnais district, in order to learn their language and to be able to labour seriously for their conversion. . . . . . . He devoted himself to it during the winter with unwearied zeal, and devoured with pleasure all difficulties found in familiarizing one's self in the knowledge and practice of the language of these barbarians, of which in a little while he learnt the elements. He built a small hut there, in which he arranged a chapel in the form of a cabin, to assemble the French and Indians for instructions and prayer ; all was neat, though poor. During the winter he endeavoured to test the soil of the country, the natural temper and disposition of the Montagnais Indians; and as this nation is almost always errant and vegabond, he underwent great hardships in seeking them and visiting them in all the principal places where they had assembled. He even went as far as the Bersiamites, Papanachois Eskimaux, and other savages, up to and beyond the Seven Islands, everywhere planting the sign of salvation, so that many years after there were found, in many spots, vestiges and marks of this course and of the zeal of the first missionary.

*            *             *             *
The Indians a second time, by the usual presents, invited Monsieur de Champlain to go to war with them against the Iroquois, but he did not deem proper to do so. His presence was necessary at Quebec, whiter he descended to gain the first jubilee ever published in Canada.
Father John d'Olbeau had obtained it of His Holiness during his stay in France. It was opened with the usual ceremonies in the chapel of Quebec, July 29, 1618.

*            *             *             *
A holy dispute arose between Fathers John and Joseph. The latter, burning with the desire of devoting his toil to the conversion of the Indians, which he always hoped to advance, although they could not remark only very remote dispositions, besought Father John d'Olbeau to relieve him of his office superior, which subjected him to a more sedentary residence at Quebec. Father John consented, the more as he was given to understand that his eyesight would not stnad the great smoke of the cabins. Father

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Joseph accordingly set out from Quebec for Tadoussac, with a young Frenchman and four Indians, on the 9th of November in the same year, not finding any opportunity of returning to his mission of Carragouha in the Huron country.
This Father had a hard enough wintering and underwent great hardships. God did indeed raise him up one of the chiefs of these nations, who adopted him as a brother, so that by this means he gained ground with these barbarians and acquired credit to dispose them better and gain them more effectively to Christ. Such is the holy artifice used by the missionaries who go to winter with savage nations. They seek the most esteemed chief and the best inclined to the French. This Indian begets him (as the people say) amid a feast made expressly. This chief adopts him as a son or brother, according to the age and rank of the person, so that all the nation considers him as actually a native of their country and a relative of their chief, entering by this ceremony into an alliance with the whole family in the same degree—brother, sister, uncle, aunt, nephews, cousins, and so on.

*            *             *             *
I have thought that the reader would be glad to see here a natural portrait of the general disposition of the Indians, such as I have found it in the fragments of the memoirs of the Superior of the mission sent to the Reverend Father-Provincial in France this present year, 1624:


FRAGMENTS OF THE MEMOIRS OF FATHER JOSEPH LE CARON,

Addressed to France on the Disposition, Character, Superstitions, Good and Bad Qualities of the Indians.

“FATHER :
“As you are curious about the natural affairs of this country, and still more about what concerns the conversion of souls, and you ask me some account of both, I have deemed it proper not to mingle sacred and profane, but am obliged to separate the two subjects in two different answers.
“I shall not give you much satisfaction by a great number of souls converted. Few real conversions are made among Indians; the time of grace is not yet come, although nothing is spared to dispose them for the Faith. It must be hoped that as the colony is peopled we shall civilize the Indians. This is necessary first; their mind will open and their good sense, of which they have the base. They will be regulated by French laws and modes of living, in order to render them capable of understanding such profound mysteries; for all that concerns humane and civil life is a mystery for our Indians in their present state, and it will require more expense and toil to render them men than it has required to make whole nations Christian. It does not follow that the work must be abandoned; on the contrary, we must apply ourselves more stedily and await the fruit in patience.

*            *             *             *

[1927lab]


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